Game Changers in Golf: Evolution of Cavity-Back Irons
In the early days of golf, golf clubs were made of wood. Iron clubs made an appearance in the mid-19th century when the ‘Gutta-percha’ balls made from hard rubber came into use. With the introduction of these harder balls, forged irons, known as blades became popular. These irons were thin, with a small sweet spot, making it difficult for average players to hit the ball well. This was the norm for decades.
The first cavity back concept was developed in 1959 by Karsten Solheim, the founder of Ping. His first cavity back club was actually a putter, not an iron! This putter was patented as the PING 1-A putter. Karsten had discovered that by shifting the weight from behind the putter head to the heel and toe of the club, he could decrease putter head twisting and create better and more consistent quality contact.
This discovery led Karsten to try perimeter weighting on irons and in 1961 he introduced PING 69 Ballnamic forged irons with two cavity slots on the back of the club head. By the late 1960’s, Karsten had introduced the PING K 1 irons (Karsten 1) that included a full cavity back and perimeter weighting. These irons were also produced from an investment casted 17-4ph stainless steel vs. forged steel.
In 1978, the original Ping Eye irons were introduced. They featured an eye shape in the cavity that helped to improve feel. The classic Ping Eye2 irons were launched just four years later with "numerous improvements." These irons would quickly go on to become the best-selling irons in golf. By the mid-1980s, most manufacturers were producing iron sets for non-professional players with some degree of perimeter weighting.
Back in the day, most professional golfers played a blade-style iron because that’s all there really was. Although cavity-back clubs were originally thought of as “game improvement” clubs, they have become widely accepted by tour players. According to Titleist, 70% of tour players use cavity backs while 30% use blades. Cavity back irons provide increased forgiveness while blades offer more control and a better feel. This is why many tour players have both cavity backs and blade irons in their bags.
The introduction of cavity-back irons has allowed many players to take up the game and play without the constant frustration of off-center, off-target hits. According to an article in Golf World magazine, “Karsten showed the way, proving that a useful, nontraditional innovation would be accepted by the golf world.”
Through the years, there have been many “useful, nontraditional innovations” in golf. We’ve seen it in every category – from drivers to irons, wedges and putters. All these innovations are designed to help golfers play better and enjoy the game more.
Here at Bloodline, we are proud that our “nontraditional” stand up putter is helping people make more putts through better alignment, more consistency and more confidence.